Porcine Thyroid and the Evil Avicel

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A while back, I wrote about my experience with hypothyroidismnew window, here and here.

I now very briefly return to the subject, mainly for the benefit of others who share the disease, and also to lay to rest stories of my death (either pending or already completed.)

I called a friend recently whom I had not talked to for years, and was met with this conversation-stopper: "I thought you were dead." No, I replied, but I hadn't been running around the world as much as I had previously, and my absence was taken by some to mean I had "kakked", as the Brits so charmingly put it.

No, I have not kakked. Soon ANOTHER CD will be out, my 75th. It should make a lot of people very mad and a lot more people very happy. Dead people just can not get the hang of playing like this.

It is important, however, to note that my experience with this disease was not as simple and pain-free as some might assume. Just because an endocrinologist says "it's an easy disease to treat... you take this one pill a day until you die, and you'll feel fine" does not mean that it's true or even reasonable.

I discovered that Synthroid, the Big Pharma drug of choice, contained only T4 (the body is supposedly able to magically transform T4 into the ACTIVE form of thyroxine, T3). I found that while everyone - male or female - is presented with the same drug (heavy lobbying in Congress!) only men seem to be able to convert T4 into T3. Our estrogen causes the T3 to curl up and ... kak. I learned that all of the double-blind, peer reviewed studies with Synthroid had been done with only men as subjects.

Ah, research. It is never any better than the bureaucrats in charge of the funding.

The New England Journal of Medicinenew window had burst the T4-only bubble in 1999, but obviously no one was watching.


One month after starting Synthroid, which made me itch, gain weight, and lose some hair, I switched to a natural compound that the FDA has been trying, with Big Pharma's help, to make illegal in the US. Corporate Fascism has it's upside, but only to the corporations. So far, so many people have switched to the natural compounds that making it illegal would just start a huge black market, almost as lucrative as pot and cocaine.

I started with Armour Thyroid. But soon, under pressure from the FDA, Armour was recalled. A shortage ensued. Many people died and many people lost their careers, their families, and their will to live. Score one for Merck.

I, in the meantime, disliking death almost as much as I dislike Mel Gibson movies, found that there are "Compounding Pharmacies" all across the country. They tailor the drugs you need according to your doctor's explicit instructions. So I began taking the compounded desiccated thyroid, made from porcine sources (pig thyroids).

It was better, but still rough on me. My fatigue continued, and my symptoms, though lessened, were still there.

Tablets and capsules that are made at most compounding pharmacies use a filler called Avicel. It's microcrystalline cellulose (wood and plant fiber, usually imported from China) and that is ALL you get to know about it.

Contents of most Avicel:

  • Propylene Glycol
  • Talc
  • Wood Pulp
  • Grass
  • Newspaper
  • Lead (!?)
  • White food dye
  • Calcium
  • other "binders, undisclosed"

It should be noted that Calcium renders T3 inert. Thanks for all the research. It's what makes American Exceptionalism... well... exceptional.

So now I have the capsules made up with the porcine thyroid hormone suspended in virgin olive oil.

What a different world it is to me now.

If you are a woman with hypothyroidism, you must have a T3-T4 combination. Anything less is bad medicine, and there is too much of that already, all around us.

And that is the rest of the story.

Jan 24, 2011